The Other McCain

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Anarchy in Africa: U.S., U.K. Evacuate as South Sudan Spirals Out of Control UPDATE: Rebels Hit U.N. Mission

Posted on | December 19, 2013 | 29 Comments

The United States has evacuated non-essential personnel from its embassy in Juba, South Sudan, British nationals are being evacuated, and people are trying to make sense of the crisis that developed suddenly over the weekend:

During the final session of the National Liberation Council, one of the ruling party’s highest political organs, on December 15, there was a dispute among different elements of the Presidential Guards (Tigers) over orders to surrender their arms. According to Adwok, guards were disarmed but later the officer in charge opened the stores and rearmed only the Dinka soldiers. The Nuer guards questioned this, a fistfight ensued and more Nuer soldiers came in and broke into the stores. The Nuer soldiers managed to take control of the headquarters and the next day after some SPLA reinforcements, the mutineers were dislodged. There is no evidence of any planning, masterminding or political coordination before or during the clash.
Although ethnicity is a major factor, the crisis was actually precipitated by a deep political rift and power struggle. Yes, the President Salva Kiir is a Dinka and his rival the former vice-president Riek Machar is a Nuer. Yes, the race card is being played by both sides, and certainly it is a real dimension of the conflict especially at the ground level. But behind Riek Machar is a coalition that includes prominent Dinka politicians as well such as the former Sudanese minister of foreign affairs and the widow of the founding father of the SPLM John Garang. Other prominent non-Nuers are in the camp of the former vice president such as the now dismissed secretary-general of the ruling party, Pag’an Amum, a Shilluk.

Reuters reports that oil workers are being evacuated, and witnesses report that SPLA troops targeted ethnic Nuers.

South Sudan only recently gained its independence from Sudan’s Muslim-dominated Khartoum regime, and this sudden descent into violent tribal anarchy is profoundly disappointing for those who supported Juba’s independence. The breakdown of discipline in the SPLA is particularly disturbing, and remember that South Sudan is right next to the Central African Republic:

Armed gangs are rampaging through the Central African Republic carrying out atrocities including executions and mutilations, despite the presence of French and African troops.
Reports by two leading human rights organisations say the situation in the war-torn country is spiralling out of control and requires a robust response from the international community.
Both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International say the death toll is much higher than reported and that peacekeeping forces in the CAR must be beefed up to protect the population from further war crimes.

Have you heard anything about this on the national news? Has any reporter asked our Nobel Peace Prize-winning president about it? No, of course not. Innocent people are being slaughtered wholesale, but it’s not “news” because, hey, it’s just Africans.

On the one hand, media silence about the bloodbath in central Africa is racist, but on the other hand, it’s also “racist” to expect Obama to do something to prevent genocidal violence. So this brutality continues, and we’re not supposed to notice.

UPDATE: South Sudan is rapidly going from bad to worse:

The United Nations says it fears casualties after attackers forced their way into a peacekeeping base in South Sudan’s Jonglei state.
Rebels from the country’s second-largest ethnic group, the Nuer, attacked the base, targeting civilians of the majority Dinka ethnic community. . . .
UN spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters on Thursday that “fighting took place” at the compound in Jonglei.
“We fear there may have been some fatalities but can’t confirm who and how many,” he said.
The UN peacekeeping mission is sheltering civilians in five state capitals, including Juba and Bor. The attack on the Jonglei compound came after Nuer rebels seized control of Bor. Even before the unrest, Bor was seen as one of the most volatile areas of South Sudan.
Earlier, there were reports of gun battles in the town, as renegade officers fought with troops still loyal to the president.



  • Evi L. Bloggerlady

    Damn, I knew that Travelzoo Christmas vacation package to South Sudan was too good to be true.

  • Evi L. Bloggerlady

    Well when there is a brew ha ha over Duck Dynasty, do you expect the media to stop coverage of that for a meltdown in Africa? I mean, they gave a week for Nelson Mandela’s funeral, Africa’s news quota is met through mid 2014.

  • Quartermaster

    Do go! Meet interesting people, see interesting things. Savor the adventure!

  • Evi L. Bloggerlady

    I think they would be savoring me! Beef is popular in South Sudan during wartime.

  • Calvin Everhart

    Now we know where to send all those worn out tires!

  • Quartermaster

    Heh! Beef is popular anywhere in wartime.

  • Evi L. Bloggerlady

    Oooooh, that burns!

  • Adjoran

    Obama would care more about Africa if they had better beaches and golf courses.

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  • Tatterdemalian

    Welcome to the reality of what happens when you try to run an army as if it’s a political campaign. Turns out the soldiers quickly realize that their guns can veto any commander they disagree with, the commanders quickly realize they’ll be killed and replaced if they don’t set themselves up as infallible leaders of a personality cult against the orders of their own government, and the government much less quickly realizes that it’s been shooting itself in the foot over and over with every attempt to give the soldiers equal rights with their commanders.

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